I am obsessed with Thai food. Second to Japanese food, it is one of my absolute favorite cuisines- I could eat it every day! Yum woon sen (YWS) in particular is one of my favorite salad/noodle dishes. Super tart but also slightly sweet, and spicy with an irresistible umami punch, this salad is incredibly easy to make as long as you have all the ingredients!
I’ve eaten at some awesome Thai restaurants in Tokyo that serve the PERFECT YWS, but I have yet to find a Thai place in my area that has a good one. Most of them are underdressed, or the noodles are over cooked, or the ingredients’ proportions are all off.
I figured if I can’t find the perfect YWS, I could just try making it at home. I came across this recipe and from the first time I made it, I was HOOKED! I altered the recipe a bit by omitting the shrimp and cilantro. The best part of this salad is that you can adjust the dressing to your liking (more spicy, more sweet, more tangy, etc.). We eat this as an appetizer but it can easily be doubled or tripled for an entree sized portion as well.
*The original recipe includes shrimp but I opted to make mine with just pork.
Yum Woon Sen recipe adapted from Hot Thai Kitchen
- 80 g dry glass noodles (bean threads)
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- Thai chilies, to taste, minced
- 2 Tbsp palm sugar, finely chopped, packed**
- 4 Tbsp + 2 tsp fish sauce
- 6 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup onion julienned
- 2 stalks of celery, peeled and thinly sliced
- A bunch of celery leaves
- 200g ground pork
- ¼ cup peanuts
1. Roast peanuts in a frying pan with about 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. You can also buy pre-roasted but I like roasting them myself. Once roasted, set aside and let cool before chopping.
2. Soak noodles in room temperature water for 5 minutes until soft and pliable. Drain.
3. Place tomato, onion and celery into a large mixing bowl.
4. In another bowl, add the grated garlic, minced chilies, palm sugar, 4 Tbsp of fish sauce and the lime juice and whisk until the palm sugar has dissolved.
5. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add glass noodles and cook for 1 minute, remove from the water with tongs (you want to keep the water) and place into a strainer. Rinse the glass noodles under cold water to stop the cooking.
6. Pour out most of the water from the pot, leaving about 1″ and set pot back on stove. Once the water boils, add the pork with 2 tsp of fish sauce and stir until fully cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork from the pot and place into the bowl with the vegetables. Then add about 1 Tbsp of the pork cooking liquid into the bowl as well.
7. Add the noodles into the mixing bowl, pour the dressing over and quickly toss to combine. Toss in celery leaves and plate. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve immediately.
You’ll want to mix the dressing in right when you’re ready to eat. The noodles will continue absorbing the dressing and will get too soggy if left dressed for too long.
**A note on palm sugar: I was able to get my hands on some liquid coconut sugar which works FANTASTICALLY in Thai cooking. It’s a bit difficult to find but if you can, please try it! It adds a wonderful caramel-y, nutty sweetness to the dish.